Review: The Universe is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn MacklerThe Universe is Expanding and So Am I
Carolyn Mackler
Published on June 5, 2018

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About The Universe is Expanding and So Am I
Virginia Shreves’ world implodes again in this long-awaited follow-up to Printz Honoree The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves’ life is finally back on course: she’s accepted who she is inside and out and is rebuilding her relationship with brother Byron, whose date-rape charge shattered everything.

But just as she adjusts to her new normal, her world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy fade, her best friend bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Sebastian, an artist with his own baggage. The pair vow not to share personal drama. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs could ruin everything.

My Review
In the opening scene, Virginia is making out with her boyfriend. Because the story starts there, I wasn’t sure what kind of content it would have, but that’s the most explicit scene in the whole book. Mostly it shows her conflicted feelings about her relationship. She feels that, because she’s overweight, she should be grateful to have a boyfriend and shouldn’t risk breaking up with him and being alone forever. But she’s definitely not into the make-out session like she would have been on another day.

I like Virginia. She’s smart and self-contained and independent. I love that she was taking a kick-boxing class! Somehow that made total sense for her, and it was a neat, unusual thing in the story.

Ultimately, The Universe is Expanding and So Am I is about relationships. Virginia’s relationships with her parents, her siblings, her friends, her boyfriend Froggy, and her new friend Sebastian all change through the course of the story. I loved the way that redefining those relationships showed her own personal growth, and that some of the relationships that affected her most, like the tree lady, were ones she might once have dismissed. Fans of The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras should add this one to their reading lists.

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I on AmazonRecommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.

Romance/Sexual Content
In the opening scene, Virginia is making out with her boyfriend. She mentions that they’ve had shirts off together before, but nothing further. This time, though, her boyfriend wants to do more. She stops him.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Virginia’s brother is accused of rape. We don’t learn the details of the incident, but it’s referenced a number of times.

Drug Content
Virginia’s brother is only 20, but her parents have allowed him to drink in the past. He was drunk the night he’s accused of raping a friend. (Sometimes Virginia’s parents seem to lean on this as an excuse for his behavior. Virginia makes it very clear she doesn’t buy that.) Byron gets drunk another time and Virginia has to take him home.

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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